When is comes to having your own urban garden – it seems like there are a lot of things standing in your way. One of the biggest hurdles that deter people from putting seeds into the dirt, is where are they going to put the dirt in the first place?

With small apartments and lack of open space outdoors, it’s easy to just head to the nearest grocery store to get your produce. However, it’s not as difficult as you may have been lead to believe to create an apartment garden.

Creating An Apartment Garden

Even if you live in a studio apartment, you actually have a decent amount of space to create a simple garden. The optimal location will be along any windows that you have; you may have to pull your bed or couch back slightly.

The first step is deciding what you want to plant in your urban garden.

For cities that has all four-seasons, like Chicago, it’d be wise chose plants that can grow year-round in your apartment garden.

What to Grow in your Urban Garden

Apartment Therapy’s Extend Your Gardening Season guide recommends starting with these plants. (View their writeup for in-depth information on how to correctly plant.)


Garlic scapes

Carrot tops
Romaine lettuce

red cabbage
snow peas

Maximizing Space for Your Apartment Garden

When it comes to the actual planters, there are many options– from super simple to infusing the plants into part of your decor.

Mason Jar Herb Garden – Wall or Window Sill

One of the best looking ones, in my opinion, is creating a Mason Jar Herb Garden– which Camille Styles explains how to create in-depth.

Not only is this a cheap and functional method– it combines modern with rustic in a way that almost makes you forget that you are creating an urban garden.

Essentially anyone is capable of building this setup, and it remains relatively affordable to create. If you have enough room on your window-sill, you can also set the mason jars there.

Shower Rod Window Planters – Middle of Window

If you really want to maximize your growing area in front of a window, this is a must! Typically the middle portion of your window would be unused, but this super easy setup will allow your plants to take in a mass amount of sun without using a mass amount of space. Shelterness featured this phenomenal idea!

Hanging Planters – Above or Near Your Window

Hanging planters are great since they don’t take up floorspace. You can have planters hanging from the ceiling above a window, while the window-sill houses more planters. There are thousands of ways to create your own hanging planters, but Architecture Art Designs has 25 of the best recommendations that I’ve seen.

They can be as simple as a cake pan or old coffee and paint cans– how about a coconut?

Other Herb Garden Options

If you find that you have some excess space for your apartment garden, you can step it up to a whole other level with bookshelf planters, gutters, end tables and so much more!

Balcony Gardening

If you have the luxury of a patio or balcony being attached to your apartment, then you can tackle larger plants, such as tomatoes. Many patios around Chicago are too small to be fully functional as a living space, but they are perfect for an urban garden!

What to Grow in Your Balcony Urban Garden

The Self Sufficient Living has a comprehensive breakdown of the top vegetables that thrive in container environments– view their writeup for in-depth information regarding each type of plant. Planting the correct produce to suit the environment makes all the difference if you want to have a successful urban garden- or any garden for that matter.

Cole Crops
Lettuce and other greens

Maximizing Space for Balcony Planters

Even the smallest of patios can morph into a thriving urban garden if setup correctly. Simple pots are the easiest, but they can take up a lot of room– consider some of these ideas to maximize space, much like the different forms of window planters.

Pallet Garden

I love this idea by Life On The Balcony! Pallets have been all the rage lately for creating furniture, but they are also very versatile for the sake of a balcony garden. Think about it, they are already tiered so you can fit many plants in a small area– plus, you can typically find used pallets for free (look by dumpsters) or cheap.

Window Box

Even though the name is window box, it doesn’t require a window to function. It merely describes a long, shallow box that isn’t too wide to fit on most windowsills. This translates into not taking up much room on your patio or balcony. What’s even better is attaching hooks to the box and hanging it from your railing.

Find more information on setting up a window box properly, as well as some of the best produce to grow in them at HGTV Gardens.

Shoe Organizer Garden

A shoe organizer is one of the best assets to use for urban gardening– and it can be utilized either indoors or outside. They are affordable to buy and super easy to setup and maintain. These are best suited for shallow root vegetables and herbs.

Know How to Plant Your Urban Garden

When planting, the correct process is crucial to having a successful urban garden. This Old House has an in-depth writeup on things to keep in mind and look out for when planting.

When you go pickup the plants of your choosing, it is a good idea to speak with one of the garden experts or there will be planting instructions on some packaging.

If you decide to plant multiple types of plants in one planter, you must make sure that your plants are compatible and will actually thrive from each other and not choke one another out. You can find a comprehensive compatibility guide here from Permaculture News.

Now that you have essentially everything require to become a successful urban gardener, you can go snag your supplies and create your own apartment garden.

No more must you wait for Chicago Farmers Markets to kick off for the season!


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